In the heat of the playoffs in the Eastern Conference, CF Montreal is looking to the top of the standings, but it must also take a look in its rear view mirror.
The Bleu-blanc-noir is not in a position that he could call comfortable, in eighth place while the first nine teams participate in the playoffs, but he still managed to build a small cushion of five points .
But in MLS, small cushions can evaporate quickly. And even more so when the matches involve direct opponents, as will be the case on Wednesday evening, when the Montrealers will visit New York City FC (5-10-11).
Hockey watchers often like to refer to these duels as “four-point games,” but the phrase can somehow apply to soccer as well.
By triumphing at Yankee Stadium, Hernan Losada’s men could join Nashville SC in the seventh echelon. A defeat, however, could wipe out some of the ground they have recently gained, having secured two straight wins in the comeback from their early League Cup elimination.
“The goal is to make the playoffs and we have returned to MLS action with good momentum. We want to continue like this in New York, said Quebecer Mathieu Choinière. We’re looking at the standings a bit, but we’re still focused on our game plan. We will go there with a good mentality. »
The NYCFC, which is currently in 13e place, six points from the playoffs, can only look up. It is probably this desire to climb the rankings that pushed the New York troupe to be active before the transfer deadline.
“It’s a team to respect”
It has gained reinforcements in attack, midfield and defense, but none of these transfers has caught as much attention as that of Maximiliano Moralez, who left Racing Club, Argentina, to return to play in the Big Apple.
The Argentinian played for New York City FC from 2017 to 2022, winning the MLS Cup in 2021. He even had one of only three seasons with 20 or more assists in league history, in 2019.
Although CF Montreal (11-12-2) is the favorite for this game and the New Yorkers have not won in their last five games (0-3-2), Losada is wary of the energy brought by the arrival of Moralez and these few players.
“They now have a real top striker and Moralez is back. I believe they deserved a better spell and to score more goals in the last two games, noted Losada. They have individual qualities and maybe as a team, with the new players, it took a little longer. But it’s a team to respect. »
If the head coach of CF Montreal refuses to take NYCFC lightly, it’s also because he stole three points at Stade Saputo on 1er July. This is also the last victory of the “Cityzens” in MLS, after five games without a win (0-3-2).
The Bleu-blanc-noir therefore not only has the opportunity to take revenge, but also to continue its success abroad, after collecting a 3-2 victory in Toronto on August 20.
“It will look like the way they played at Stade Saputo. They are a team that likes to keep the ball and we have to keep that in mind. We have to keep playing our style to get the three points, ”analyzed midfielder Bryce Duke.
“We won on the road last week,” added Losada. We know this is something we can be better at. We have worked hard on this over the last few weeks and we hope to be even more competitive during the last away games of the season”.
A matchup against NYCFC at home wouldn’t be one if there weren’t any discussion surrounding field dimensions at Yankee Stadium. Smaller and narrower than anywhere else in MLS, the pitch brings a different dynamic, especially for teams not used to playing there.
The Montrealers were methodical in their victory over the New England Revolution on Saturday, and they used their cardio to wear down their opponents in the second half. On a smaller field, the strategy is likely to work less, but that of trying to shoot from everywhere could serve as an alternative.
“It must come to mind that you can take a shot from a little further out there. On a field like ours, it may not work or it won’t be the best choice, but at Yankee Stadium, it can work. Hopefully we’ll see more shots and, by doing so, more goals,” Duke hinted.
Striker Ariel Lassiter will be available, having injured himself in training during the three-week matchless break. Defender Aaron Herrera, however, will miss the next few games with an ankle injury.